Re:Verse reading–Matthew 5:17-48 (day three)

“Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” It’s common to think of “kingdom of heaven” as a synonym for the afterlife. But Jesus is talking about life under the reign of God, whether that life takes place now or after we die. Jesus lived in the kingdom of heaven even as he walked the earth. Therefore, to live in the kingdom of heaven is to live–right now, not merely later–the kind of life that Jesus lives. That is the only kind of life that will last forever, and only Jesus–no other “righteousness expert”–can teach us that life. Part of what it means to “accept Jesus” is to become his apprentices so that he can teach us how to live under God’s reign.

Grace to All

Re:Verse reading–Matthew 5:17-48 (day two)

“For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” 45-47

If we are only ever kind to those who are kind to us, where does peace begin? This passage offers another look at the golden rule. God does not remove sunshine and flowers from those who oppose his will. Similarly he does not withhold disease, poverty, and hunger from those who follow him. The good news is that his mercy is offered to all. As the sun and showers are for everyone, so is his grace. Our role in the building of the kingdom is not to determine who is worthy of these gifts, but offer them freely to all. There are things that continue to hinder our response to this call. Our own prejudice or ignorance can blind us to the responsibility we have to our neighbor. If we only love those who look and act like us we will perpetuate the building of walls to keep people from the Gospel rather than building relationships that will share it.

New year. Old Testament.

Re:Verse reading–Matthew 5:17-48 (day one)  

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish but to fulfill them.”–v 17.

Want a new year?  Go back to an old book, the Bible!  One of the most remarkable things about Jesus is his absolute confidence in the Bible.  He called it, “the Law and the Prophets”–what we call the Old Testament.

As the Son of God, Jesus might have presented himself as superior to Scripture.  He might have argued that he had firsthand knowledge, the writers of Scripture only partial.  But He never did!

Over and over again, Jesus affirmed the authority and sufficiency of scripture for spiritual life.  “He came not as a new legislator”, says Calvin, “but as a faithful expositor of the law already given.”

Make no mistake.  The way to a NEW year is to go back, with fresh eyes, to an OLD book.

Jesus preaching

Re:Verse reading–Matthew 5:1-12 (day seven)

“He went up on the mountain. . .and sat down. . .began to teach them.”

What was it like to hear Jesus preach?  Matthew remembers.  More than any other writer, he took the trouble to record the words and include them in his gospel.  (He was, after all,  an accountant.  Details mattered to him.)

It was SURPRISING.  Unlike the Scribes and Pharisees.  Different ideas.  Deeper.

It was CONVICTING.  He spoke from a position of strength. “He was teaching them as one who had authority.”Matthew 7:29.  He was not asking for their validation or even their support.  No entertainment.  He knew the truth and expected to be obeyed.  He was commanding them.  Calling them.

It was MIND-STRETCHING.  A teacher more than a preacher.  Information!  Ideas!  Thoughts were His gift and craft.  “Repent”, He said, “change your mind!”

What was it like to hear Jesus preach?  Read Matthew 5:1-12.  We can talk about it this morning as we worship.


He Opened His Mouth

Re:Verse – Matthew 5:1-12 (day six)

“And he opened his mouth and taught them saying…” Matthew 5:2.

Although simple, there is great significance in these words. Jesus came to die; to live a life without sin and take our sin to the Cross, and yet “he opened his mouth and taught.” One would think His teaching unnecessary in light of bigger things. These words not only set the scene for the greatest sermon ever preached, but also reveal to us a whole view of Jesus’ ministry to us. Jesus had to teach. Later he would tell us he only speaks what the Father tells him to say, and he would tell his disciples the Holy Spirit would help them remember all he has said. Why? Why was it necessary for Jesus to “open his mouth?”

Jesus taught to help us make sense of the cross; that we might have a sense of desperation that draws us to the Gospel. He also taught us so that once free of our sin we might make sense of this life. If Jesus opened his mouth, than by all means, we must listen!